UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson
With an incredible level of dominance over a top opponent in Nate Diaz on Saturday night in Seattle, Henderson defended his UFC lightweight championship for the second time, earning his sixth straight win in the Octagon.
Although he was unable to finish Diaz in the performance, there weren't many times throughout the 25-minute bout that it really looked as if he was in any sort of trouble. Even when Diaz had his leg in what looked to be a somewhat compromising position, Henderson kept a level head, using his strength and timing to wriggle free of danger.
With such an impressive victory under his belt where he utilized his striking, wrestling and jiu-jitsu games, it's becoming more and more relevant to ask the big question...
Where does Benson Henderson rank among the all-time greats in the 155-pound lightweight division?
The UFC had been without a lightweight division for the over five years and when it came back, it was Sean Sherk who led a new breed of 155'ers who would take the MMA world by storm.
Sherk, a former welterweight whose only career losses to that point came at the hands of Georges St-Pierre and Matt Hughes, and had wins over the likes of Nick Diaz and Karo Parisyan, was 32-2-1 when he fought Kenny Florian for the vacant UFC lightweight championship in October 2006.
While Sherk's UFC record at 155 was just 4-2, he does hold wins over some premier talent in the division and his only ever losses at 155 are to two of the best ever, BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar.
Sherk has not fought since his UFC 119 decision victory over Evan Dunham and does plan on stepping back in the cage. When he does, look for him to continue to prove that he is one of the best ever to fight at 155.
With Frankie Edgar now moving down to the 145-pound division to challenge Jose Aldo, there is a very real possibility that "The Answer" might establish himself as one of the top five fighters in two weight classes.
Edgar's career record at 155 pounds includes victories over a who's who of the past half-decade, including Jim Miller, Tyson Griffin, Mark Bocek, Hermes Franca, Gray Maynard and two wins over BJ Penn.
In 18 career fights, Edgar has never been finished by any opponent, and his two most recent losses to Benson Henderson were some of the most controversial decisions of 2012.
There's no doubt that Frankie Edgar could continue to be elite at 155 if he wanted to, but the opportunity to be the king at 145 was enough to get him to drop down to what many believe to be his "natural" weight class.
The current reigning UFC lightweight champion checks in all the way up at No. 3 all-time in the 155 pound division.
A former WEC lightweight champion, Benson Henderson's career record in Zuffa now stands at 11-1 and includes victories over the likes of Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Mark Bocek, two wins over both Donald Cerrone and Frankie Edgar and now Nate Diaz.
On Saturday night, Henderson may have been at his best, which is a scary thought. He's a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, holds a black belt in taekwondo and might have the best wrestling in the division. Not only that, but the pace he sets is unbelievable. He never seems to tire and systematically breaks down his opponents from bell to bell.
Henderson's only WEC/UFC loss came in one of the most amazing fights we have ever seen, against Anthony "Showtime" Pettis, and with Pettis on a two-fight win streak, we may be looking at a rematch of the "fight of the year" from 2010 in the near future.
For fans who are new to the sport, Takanori Gomi might not be someone who immediately comes to your mind when you think of the greatest lightweights of all time. But if you're unfamiliar with his work, I would encourage you to go back and check out his work in Pride from 2004 to 2007.
Gomi was an absolute monster during that period, racking up an unbelievable 13-1-1 record for the promotion before the company finally held its last show in 2007. He finished 10 opponents during that stretch, a feat which is very rare among lighter-weight fighters who do not necessarily possess the same kind of knockout power that their heavier counterparts do.
Not only was Gomi great during that time, but he has continued to be a competitive fighter in the UFC even today. At 34 years old, with 43 career fights under his belt, Gomi has put together back-to-back wins in the Octagon, including his recent "fight of the night" winner against Mac Danzig in November.
He might have suffered the saddest defeat of his career on Saturday night at the hands of Rory MacDonald, but the BJ Penn who fought on Fox is not the same guy who we saw wrecking the UFC lightweight division before.
Penn, whose career record at 155 pounds stands at an unbelievable 11-3-1, fought the absolute best of the best that the world had to offer. He holds victories over two members of this list, Takanori Gomi and Sean Sherk, and many would contest that his first fight against Frankie Edgar could've also gone his way.
The legacy that "The Prodigy" will leave behind won't be what it could have been if he stayed at 155 rather than bouncing back between 155 and 170, even throwing in middleweight bouts against Rodrigo Gracie and Lyoto Machida.
Penn's stretch in the lightweight division from when he won the UFC title in June 2007 through December 2009 may never go unmatched. During that time, he defeated Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson, Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. Better yet, he finished every single one of them by either knockout or submission.
Many still believe that Penn could make another run in the UFC lightweight division, but at 33 years old, his days of competing at the top level are likely past him. Still, there is no denying that Baby Jay is the greatest we have ever seen at 155 pounds.